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Early Learning

Know your Body – Tongue

taste

TONGUE

Want to find out just how much you use your tongue? Try eating an ice-cream cone or singing your favorite song without it. You need your tongue to chew, swallow, and sing. And don’t forget to talk and tasting!

Has anyone ever told you that the tongue is a muscle? Well, that’s only partly true: The tongue is made up of many groups of muscles. These muscles run in different directions to carry out all the different jobs for the tongue.

Your tongue is a big muscle covered in clusters of taste buds. Each cluster recognizes a particular kind of taste.

There are five types of tastes – bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and umami.

Bitter foods such as coffee can be bad for you. Most poisons are bitter.

Sour foods include lemon and vinegar. Food that has “gone bad” also tastes sour.

Salt detecting taste buds can be found on the lips as well as on the tongue.

Sweet foods naturally attract us. Our first food – milk – is sweet.

Umami is the savory taste of foods like soy sauce and mushrooms.

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Saliva is your mouth dissolves your food. The food washes over tiny taste buds between the bumps on your tongue. Taste buds recognize different flavors.

Your tongue has touch sensors, to help you feel food.

With all that talking, mixing food, swallowing, tasting, and germ-fighting, does your tongue ever get a rest?

No. Even when you are sleeping, your tongue is busy pushing saliva into the throat to be swallowed. It’s a good thing, too, or we’d be drooling all over our pillows. Keep your tongue in tip-top shape by brushing it along with your teeth and avoiding super-hot foods. A burned tongue is no fun!